ATLANTA – Raffi Torres is making two-goal games look astonishingly easy.
Torres scored two uncontested second-period goals and the Columbus Blue Jackets held off the Atlanta Thrashers 4-3 on Thursday night. Torres’ second goal gave Columbus a 4-2 lead. He also had two goals Sunday in the Blue Jackets’ 5-4 win at Washington before taking advantage of the Thrashers’ breakdowns in weak-side defence.
Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec was defending attacks on the left side of the net when Torres was left alone on the right side.
“Those two goals were pretty much empty-netters,” Atlanta defenceman Pavel Kubina said. “We overplayed the puck, and two guys covered one guy on one side and no one covered (Torres) on the other side. We’ve just got to be better in the defensive zone and talk more.”
Torres had only one multigoal game last season.
The Thrashers, 2 for 8 on the power play, outshot the Blue Jackets 35-21.
“Killing penalties takes a lot of energy, but we found a way to get the points,” said Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock, who noted his team was coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose on Wednesday night.
“We played well in the first period, then last night’s game caught up with us and we ended up in the penalty box,” he said.
Blue Jackets centre Samuel Pahlsson said it’s not easy to overcome eight penalties.
“You don’t expect that,” Pahlsson said. “You can’t take that many penalties.”
The Blue Jackets won for only the third time in nine games after a 5-1 start.
The Thrashers, coming off road wins at Ottawa and Montreal, lost for the fourth time in five home games.
Atlanta coach John Anderson said poor starts are the common problem in the home losses.
“This is the same press conference as the last games at home, and it’s disappointing,” Anderson said. “It’s not that we’re playing horrible, but we don’t initiate. We wait to see how the game goes and then we start to play.”
The Blue Jackets took a 2-0 lead in the first period when Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard each had a goal and an assist. Columbus never trailed.
“When you go up by two goals, there is not nearly as much pressure,” said Mathieu Garon, who stopped 32 shots in his first start against the Thrashers since 2000.
Blue Jackets scoring leader Rick Nash, who has 10 goals and 21 points, was held without a point for only the fourth time in 15 games.
“He is a big part of this team, but you can’t expect him to score in every game,” Garon said of Nash.
Kubina’s power-play goal 2:06 into the third period cut Atlanta’s deficit to 4-3, but Garon protected the lead when the Thrashers attacked most of the last 2 minutes.
“We’ve been talking about our slow starts for pretty much all the home games,” Kubina said. “We’ve just got to be sharp.”
Bryan Little and Tobias Enstrom scored in the second. Enstrom’s goal was his first this season.
Attendance at Philips Arena was a season-low 10,878.
NOTES: Torres has eight goals this season. … Garon recorded two shutouts over Atlanta while a rookie with Montreal in 2000. … Brassard returned after missing one game because of a hand injury. … The Blue Jackets are 5-4 in road games. … Columbus RW Derek Dorsett was helped off the ice about 5 minutes into the third period after he was knocked hard into the wall by Ron Hainsey.